…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. -Romans 12:2

Trademarks

Part of what sets this organization apart from other organizations is its trademarks. As our business expands, our trademarks are constantly being applied to more products and services. The more popular our trademarks become, the greater their value is to us, and the greater is the need for their protection.

Each of us uses our trademarks in some way and therefore plays a vital part in our program for preserving and enhancing our trademarks. Proper procedures for obtaining, maintaining and protecting trademarks are the key element in that program. For this reason, our legal counsel has prepared this Policy for the proper use of our trademarks. It is important that we follow this Policy with great care in order to protect our organization’s trademarks from misuse. Our legal counsel is prepared to help you in applying this Policy to specific situations as they arise.

I. Purpose of Policy

The trademarks of this organization and its various departments, divisions and affiliates are valuable assets. However, these assets are fragile and their protection requires constant effort. We must be creative to gain maximum value from our trademarks in support of business objectives, but careful not to impair the validity or worth of the trademarks. This is especially true in connection with the advertising and promotional use of trademarks.

This Policy is intended to provide a general understanding of correct trademark usage and to help in selecting new trademarks. This statement will be interpreted and modified, as needed, by our legal counsel.

II. What Is A Trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, name, symbol or any combination of these which is used to identify our products. A trademark distinguishes our products from similar products sold by other organizations. A trademark is our monogram, a marking which identifies a product as to source rather than as to kind or type. A trademark also stands as a symbol of the quality which people expect in products we sell.

It is the trademark to which reputation and goodwill attach. A trademark performs this function whether or not a buyer knows the real name of a product’s maker. For example, the “Sample Mark #1” trademark informs people that the items upon which the mark appears come from the owners of the “Sample Mark #1” trademark, whether or not the purchasers know that “Sample Mark #1” is a trademark of this organization

A service mark is basically the same as a trademark except that it identifies services instead of products. Examples of service marks owned by this organization include “Sample Mark #2” and “Sample Mark #3.” For practical purposes, the same rules apply to service marks as apply to trademarks.

III. Selecting, Clearing and Protecting Proposed New Trademarks

A. Selection
Selecting a new trademark is usually best accomplished by a team. In order to perform its function well, a trademark should be memorable, attractive, and elicit desirable responses. Selecting a mark which meets all these requirements frequently involves the talents of people who represent media design, marketing strategy, financial development and legal concerns.

There are a few general rules which should be kept in mind by anyone who is in the process of selecting a new trademark. For instance, a trademark should not include matter which suggests a connection with other organizations or institutions, governments, famous people, etc.

It is unwise to select a trademark which consists of a person’s name, because anyone having that name is free to use it in connection with products or services. A trademark may not be confusingly similar to any other trademark which is in use for similar products or services in the same geographic area. Customarily, our legal counsel will have a search conducted before filing any application to register a trademark to see whether it is confusingly similar to an existing trademark.

It is unwise to select a new trademark which is merely descriptive, or easily suggests, the kind of product or service with which it is to be used. The reason is that anyone is free to use ordinary descriptive words to describe their product or service. On the other hand, a trademark should not be intentionally misdescriptive, suggesting that a product has properties which it does not really have. Similarly, it is unwise to select a mark which is geographically descriptive.

B. Clearance
Once a tentative decision as to proposed new marks has been made, it is then possible to conduct a formal legal search, through our legal counsel, to determine whether the marks are available. Depending on the outcome of this investigation, a decision can be made whether to adopt the new marks or devise alternate marks. In certain circumstances, it may be possible to get permission from other trademark owners to register our own mark.

C. Protection
Once a trademark is cleared for use, steps must be taken promptly to place it in use and to file an application for registration. This prompt action is necessary in order to prevent others from acquiring prior rights in the new trademark. Our legal counsel should be advised early in the trademark selection process. In other words, legal counsel should be sought before deciding to use a new trademark or service mark. In the long run, it will save time, effort and money.

IV. Protection of Existing Trademarks

A. Registration
The basic legal rights in trademarks are gained by their proper use and registration. All trademarks used by this organization, its departments, divisions and affiliates are to be registered by our legal counsel. Our legal counsel is the only office authorized to register any trademark for this organization, its departments, divisions or affiliates. However, trademark registration is not a final step. Any rights which are gained by registration are kept only through the proper and continuing use of the trademark in commerce.

B. The Risk of Genericness
Unlike a trademark, a generic name consists of words commonly used to identify a product as to kind or type. For example, the terms “media,” “tech” and “process” are generic names and anyone is free to use them.

Sometimes trademarks are adopted by the public as generic names. When this happens the trademark owner finds that other people can use the former trademark just as they can use any other common words. The list of once famous trademarks which have passed from private ownership into the public domain is impressive and frightening. It includes cellophane, nylon, mimeograph, shredded wheat, linoleum, escalator, and kerosene, among others. This must not happen to any of our trademarks. If it does, we will have lost a valuable asset.

The way to avoid converting a trademark into a generic name is to use an obvious generic term to identify the product as to kind or type. Thus, if we were to identify a box of oat flakes cereal, we would refer to it as “Our Brand” oat flakes cereal.

C. General Rules
The following are some general rules which will be helpful to you in connection with the use of any trademark.

  1. Always give trademarks distinctive graphic treatment, even in ordinary memos. Capitalize them completely or use initial caps with quotes or, as an absolute minimum, use initial caps.
  2. Always use the trademark together with the generic name of the product. Don’t give the generic name the same distinctive graphic treatment you give to the trademark (Example: “Sample Mark” brand products). There are some exceptions to this rule. Our “Mass Media” servicemark includes, as part of the mark itself, the generic word “media.” Thus, it is not necessary to follow “Mass Media” with the word “media.” However, it would be helpful to follow with some other generic term, such as “film,” “presentation,” etc.
  3. Never use a trademark as a common noun by using a plural form (adding s) or a possessive form (adding ‘s). Don’t say “Trademark’s,” “Sample’s services,” or “Mass Medias.” Don’t refer to a servicemark as a thing. Don’t mislead people into thinking that a trademark is an ordinary word which can be used to identify a kind of product or service made by anyone. If you think this is unlikely, consider whether “Phillips screwdriver” or “Tiffany lamp shade” identify the kind of products, or the company which makes them. Both of these terms used to be trademarks.
  4. Be careful about spelling, punctuation and capitalization. For example, the “in” which is part of “Techno-In Business” is always capitalized. Don’t overlook the terminal “s” which is part of “Business Concerns.” Be sure to include the apostrophe in “What’s Up.” Don’t hyphenate a trademark (unless a hyphen is part of the mark) and don’t split it in other ways (such as showing it on separate lines).
  5. Never use a trademark as a verb. Example: to the extent “xerox” is used as a verb (to copy something), it lessens the value of the term as a trademark.
  6. Accompany all trademarks which are registered with registration notices. Normally, this will consist of the symbol “®” following the mark, accompanied by a statement (usually at the bottom of the page) that the mark “is a registered trademark [servicemark] of this organization” It is not always possible to show these notices in memos or in all body copy of magazine articles, etc. Yet, notices should be used in all advertising or promotional pieces and in any graphic display which will receive public attention. If a trademark is used repeatedly in ads, magazine articles, or the like, a good rule is to use the registration notice at least in the first or most prominent appearance of the mark on each page.The use of TM or SM is not required in connection with any unregistered mark. Yet, its use is highly recommended so as to put people on notice that we are claiming a trademark interest in the word or symbol. When these symbols are used, usage should be consistent with the use of “®.”
  7. Never use a trademark to describe something for which it is not intended to be used in connection with. Every trademark is registered only in certain specific classes of products or services. “Sample Mark #4,” for example, has a registered design which relates to *specify* services. This mark should not be used in connection with products of any kind, nor with other kinds of services, unless clearance has been obtained from our legal counsel.

V. Procedures

It is essential in protecting our trademarks and in coordinating our trademark activities that our trademark program be administered at our headquarters. The need for this should be clear. Not everyone may be aware of headquarters policies which may apply in a given situation. Further, actions inconsistent with existing international policy taken in one country can have an adverse effect in another. These reasons, coupled with the objective of a uniform trademark policy coming from a central office, require a standing request to field personnel to discourage contact with outside local law firms. This is the only way we can police and protect our trademarks.

All new advertising, signs, packages, labels, catalogs, brochures, news releases, promotional material, novelties, magazine articles, speeches, broad-distribution memos, or any other medium from which our trademarks will receive significant public attention, should receive proper management and trademark usage approval.

It is our belief and hope that the securing of such approvals will not merely avoid errors which might damage or destroy our trademarks, but will go beyond this objective in a positive way of enhancing the value of our trademarks, and increasing the effectiveness of the media vehicles in which they appear.

Final Reminder

Although this statement of policy should answer many of your questions about trademarks, your principal guide in trademark matters is our legal counsel. Contact that office for additional trademark advice.